GUWAHATI: A wildlife rehabilitation and conservation centre in Assam has appealed to people to adopt rhino calves, orphaned by the latest wave of flood at Kaziranga National Park.
This year’s flood, which is the most devastating since 2004, has submerged 80% of the 430 sq km Kaziranga, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the one-horned rhinos.
According to officials, 21 rhinos were among 310 animals killed by the flood in the park. Of the 21 rhinos killed, 10 are calves, aged between two to six months. Twenty rhinos drowned while another was shot dead by a forest guard in ‘self-defence’.
The officials said nine rhinos were rescued including eight calves orphaned by the flood. They are being treated at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), which is run by Wildlife Trust of India in collaboration with International Fund for Animal Welfare.
“Our annual budget makes us to feed three rhino or as many elephant calves at the most. We don’t know how long we can feed those which are with us,” CWRC in-charge Rathin Barman told Express.
The calves need to be fed with baby milk powder. On average, each requires 3.2kg of lactogen2, laced with nutrients. For the past week, the CWRC has been spending around Rs.45000 every day for the eight calves, Barman said.
“Rhino calves survive only on milk for the first year. They need milk even in the second year although by that time they start eating grass and other feed,” he said.
Given the lack of funds and the kind of money needed to keep the calves alive, Barman sought the support of people.
“Anyone interested in adopting a calf for two years may contact us in the phone number 03776-294563,” he said.
Once the calves recuperate fully from the trauma and injuries, Barman said they would be relocated in the park. “But, usually we keep them with us for two years,” he said.